The Internet is About to Change the Way You Do Business Forever… Again.
The internet is filled with articles shouting about how the internet is changing everything. Everyone, from the New York Times to your 9th grade nephew, has written a think-piece (or at least a think-status) on the effects of social media.
Instant gratification is making us dumb!
We don't talk to anybody in person anymore!
Yay, we don’t talk to anybody in person anymore!
How did the internet know I was pregnant before I did? (that really happened)
Does the internet really warrant all this praise and concern? Is it really that big a deal? The obvious answer is yes. It’s not overrated. If anything, we probably deserve a lot more articles dedicated to the ways it has changed the way we live. It doesn’t just connect us to the people we love, it connects us to the people we want to love, the people we don’t know anymore, people we will never meet on the other side of the world, and (last, but very much not least) it connects us to people who want to sell us things.
The internet, and social media in particular, has brought about a full-scale revolution in how businesses and consumers interact. Contact between the two has never been easier or more entertaining. And yet it took businesses much longer than you would think to catch on. We’re only now getting to the point when even small businesses are hiring social media managers. Companies are hiring bloggers to generate content that attracts customers in ways conventional ads can’t, and mom n’ pop stores are hiring videographers to make funny YouTube videos to help build their brand. The business world is only now getting hooked on content, because we finally understand that there’s a new kind of currency in town. Likes, Shares, Impressions, and Search Results have tangible value. These little features of the internet have taken on a whole new role, and many businesses are wondering why it took them so long to see the importance of this new kind of currency.
Well, it’s high time for another internet article to shout about the next kind of internet currency about to turn business on its head: bitcoin.
You’ve definitely heard of bitcoin by now. Your grandmother has probably heard of it. It’s that electronic gold nerds use to buy stuff on World of Warcraft, right? Or it’s that fool’s gold people are investing in because its value fluctuates so much, so it can make you rich quick, but it’s equally likely to make you bankrupt, right?
Both of those ideas have grains of truth to them, but they sound absurd not because they are wrong, but because they don’t even scratch the surface of bitcoin. Not its potential, and not even the way it’s being used right now. Bitcoin is bringing with it a fundamental change in the way human beings relate to each other through money. Some of that change has already happened, but the majority of it will happen in the coming decades when more and more people catch on. And it won’t just change your life as an individual, it will drastically change the way businesses, marketers, and consumers interact with each other. Many of the ways it will transform business are not yet understood, but there are concrete changes being made right now. So don’t be one of the companies who took 13 years to see that Facebook was a marketplace. Take some time to understand how bitcoin works, and incorporate it into your business early.
Understanding the ins and outs of bitcoin can take a very long time, but here is what you need to know in a nutshell. The process by which bitcoins are traded is known as “blockchain”. A blockchain is a public ledger that shows every transaction made with bitcoin. The key words there are “public” and “every”. Everyone can see every transaction ever made. A persons’ entire buying history is public (hello, advertisers). The bits and pieces a company had to buy in order to make a product can be traced, so consumers can peek into a company’s process. Your buying history will itself be a story you’re telling - with every purchase you make, you’re building a brand. And bitcoin is decentralized, meaning it is not under the control of any government or business entity. This allows for unregulated transactions across the globe. But it also means your money is your money. The government can’t touch it, inflate it, or deflate it on its own. This is why you may have heard about a steep rise in bitcoin adoption in Argentina, where inflation is skyrocketing.
When you think of bitcoin, don’t think of hackers and nerds and get-rich-quick schemes. First think about what makes bitcoin truly unique: decentralization, independence, global use, transparency, and security. And then think about how a fundamental change in how humans use money is obviously going to bring it with a fundamental change in how we make money. Because this change is coming at us more quickly than we realize. The first time the internet revolutionized the business world, it took decades. But as innovation gets faster and faster, it will never take that long again.